Tuesday 8 October 2002

A history of Iraq, whose roots go back 10,000 years

There are few places on Earth that have as rich and complex a history as Iraq, a nation that can claim roots that go back 10,000 years.

It considers itself to be the "cradle of civilizations," the likely birthplace of the modern alphabet and geometry, and the wellspring of several religions.

It is the home of the world's first great cities, like Babylon, listed as one of the "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World" for its luxurious hanging gardens that modern archaeologists have been unable to replicate. In the Middle Ages, Baghdad was the cultural capital of Islam, and the source of some of the greatest Arabic literature, including the magical tales Scheherazade wove of "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor" and "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves."

Abraham came from Ur in what is today southern Iraq, and some believe the Garden of Eden was located here, too.

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